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The Weekender: Moms, babies and the toxin avenger

The Weekender features a longer form article from a reputable source. We select articles that discuss issues and opportunities we deem just off the radar for many business people, students, and faculty. We aim to expand the mind, broaden the heart, and sharpen the analysis. Have a great weekend.

This week....

The Toxin Avenger (Natural Resource Defense Council)

Mothers' Day reminds me that perhaps the population most burdened by environmental toxins, pollution, and a changing climate is mothers.  And it is also mothers who have, again and again, been the ones to raise their voices to protect children and communities. It is time to redesign products, processes and our communities in order to safeguard mothers and their children.


"Dr. Frederica Perera has always been enchanted by science. As a kid, she preferred to curl up with a biography of Madame Curie or Darwin’s On the Origin of Species rather than books about Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys."

“'In the early 1970s, a photo essay by Eugene Smith about the disaster at Minamata Bay had a huge impact on me,” Perera recalls. For years, the Chisso Corporation had dumped wastewater containing mercury into the Japanese bay, and Smith’s images documented the lasting effects on the human population."

“'Like all new moms, I was acutely aware of my children’s

vulnerabilities and the need to protect them,” Perera says. “I wanted to find a better way to study the relationship between pollutants and health.” Typical studies at the time vaguely monitored area-wide chemical exposure and tried to find relationships between that data and the number of serious diseases and deaths. “I thought there must be a better way to connect the dots between exposure early in life and outcomes later on," she says, " so we could focus on prevention and not just recording death.'”  Full article

For more, I encourage "10 Americans" from the Environmental Working Group (2012...a little dated but still relevant):

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